English writer Charles Caleb Colton said: "Money is the most envied, but the least enjoyed. Health is the most enjoyed, but the least envied." Good health is not guaranteed, but you can improve your health and ward off many diseases by exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. Men can improve their overall fitness, appearance and health by lifting weights. There are a variety of free weight workouts that can help.
Resistance training such as weightlifting offers a host of benefits, including speeding metabolism, preventing bone and muscle loss, burning calories and preventing common pains such as lower back pain, according to "Resistance Training for Health," published by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Strength training can also help men with weight loss and overall toning by building lean muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat and contributes to an overall strong, sculpted look.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults perform strength training exercises twice a week for good health. ACSM advises doing eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 exercises for a beneficial strength training program. There are a variety of ways to strength train, including free weights, weight machines and using your own body weight for resistance. For a free-weight workout, choose from lifting dumbbells or larger weights such as barbells.
Men can use dumbbells to strengthen major and minor muscles throughout the body. Some popular exercises that work major muscle groups that you can perform with dumbbells include: biceps curls, triceps curls, bench press, lunges, shoulder presses and raises, and shoulder shrugs. If you want to tone your muscles and build stamina, do a high number of repetitions with a low amount of weight. To build larger muscles, try increasing the amount of dumbbell weight and decreasing your reps. You can also warm up with a lower weight and higher reps.
A barbell consists of a metal bar with adjustable weight amounts on each end. Most barbells are much longer than dumbbells, and many include weight in the bar, which you can factor into the total amount of weight you lift. Barbells are often used by bodybuilders and can help you build muscle fast by using large amounts of weight. You can also try lower amounts of weight for overall toning and conditioning. Some popular barbell exercises that work the major muscle groups include: deadlifts, bench press, squats, lunges, upright rows, shoulder press and snatches. More isolating exercises include the barbell or dumbbell tricep extension and the barbell or dumbbell bicep curl.
Consult your doctor before beginning any weightlifting program. If you don't know how to do a particular free weight exercise, ask a certified exercise specialist such as a personal trainer, coach or physical therapist. Allow muscle groups at least one day of to rest between workouts of those muscle groups so your muscles can rebuild and repair themselves. If you feel any sharp or lasting pain while lifting weights, stop immediately and call your doctor. Use correct form. Do not lift too heavy too soon.